Making Curriculum Pop

What do different people think about or do with summer reading,
especially at the high school level and apart from AP required reading?

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In the past, there was a designated title matched each year to one of the core discipline. So incoming freshmen read a novel for English, incoming sophomores read a non-fiction title related to science, incoming juniors read a multi-cultural title for social studies, and incoming seniors read a title that had a connection to math. It was always hit or miss as to whether or not the students read the books, however. Some titles would be more popular for some reason and that might mean more read that particular summer and the title never changed much.

Fortunately, at least at the incoming freshmen level, we made a significant change in our approach this past year which yielded much better results. Instead of reading a single preselected title, we opened the selection and created a varied list of half a dozen young adult novels with broad or critical appeal. We use a simple writing assessment to determine the quality of reading. Our findings were that the simple addition of choice resulted in a whole lot more students actually reading one of the books, even if a number of students read the shortest title.
Was there anything great about the shortest title? Maybe we need a new genre.
If I am not mistaken, I believe that Speak was the shortest of title of the selections. It is obviously a fairly acclaimed novel and one that certainly appeals more to a female audience, if you buy the notion that books have genders. Almost every male that read that particular book did so because it was the shortest page count. I am not sure that it actually was the shortest in actuality, but that certainly was the perception.
Graphic novels are allowable on our reading list! Anybody else include these for summer reading?
I agree Fred, that choice is huge. At the start of the year our language arts teachers have the kids take a test on computers to determine their Lexile level. Then when we share out the reading lists, we include the Lexile levels of each book. I have posted our recommended reading list, but the one on my blog does not include this--mainly because I need to cut an Xcel file first. Take a look at my project page if you would like to see the projects we now allow students to pick from. They can only do TWO of any one type of project when submitting their four summer reading projects. is our site.
Ms. Wisdom,
I think it is important to post a summer reading list of recommended titles gathered from your department. Then there has to be some accountability for the number of titles you ask them to read--the book projects may be turned in on the first day of school or the first week of school, whatever you decide. We are giving our students options for book projects--electronic, hard copy, traditional, artistic, and/or comparative. Along with that come the rubrics (that I am working on!) for each. The rubrics need to be available preferably along with the summer reading list. At our magnet school, we emphasize the value we feel reading holds by requiring reading of magnet and for the first time, our comprehensive students as well. We'll see how the experiment goes. For the comprehensive students, their summer reading book will be handed to them at the end of year awards ceremony. (We bought them.)
Hi, Shawn,
Thanks for the link! We definitely offered titles from which students could choose, and we had a book fair so kids could actually pick up the book of their choice. We think we're going to have a summer reading day, where each English class during each period comes to a large room to discuss their books. We'll also have computers available for students to blog or create something that demonstrates that they read. I like the site, and we are just beginning to use glogster.
What a cool idea to have the kids come up for a sort of Read-In! We had a week long Summer Reading Academy to introduce students to the various tech options (Luckily our school has three computer labs available in the summer!). One of the reflection comments written on the last day was "Allow us time to read!" We didn't do that because I asked the students to have completed at least one and preferably two of their four books before coming to the Summer Reading Academy. I also found out that most of our kids are checking books out of local libraries instead of buying them. I now know which was their favorite session--Glogster was very popular! Storybird, not so much.... Check out this site: It has samples of the business cards--cool!
Bookjackets are still surprisingly popular, especially with kids who do not have computers in the home. We had examples out for students to examine and we gave them time and materials to get started on their own. I wished I had money to offer a second Academy at the end of July....alas! We do not have the funds...



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